My grandparents were Italian immigrants who arrived in America 100 years ago with millions of others in the first decades of the 20th century. My life in America was made possible through them, literally and figuratively. The portraits are collaborations. Each immigrant was asked to provide a few precious things which connect him or her with their birth nation or America. Most contributed photographs, unrivaled conveyors of memories, while others brought letters, artwork and memorabilia. These objects were photographed and then composited with portraits I shot of each individual. All the interviews were open-ended but began with a simple question, “What brought you to America?”
If these pictures and stories remind readers of their own extended family histories, those fragile or sinewy ‘ties that bind,’ our common humanity, that’s enough.
- Peter Garrard Beck